After Mercy Medical Center opens its new hospital in North Merced in May, it will be the first time in more than 100 years that a hospital hasn't been located in South Merced.
That has some South Merced residents upset. But Mercy already has plans in place to make sure residents in South Merced will be able to access care from the hospital.
When Mercy announced the building of a new hospital, the county told the hospital there needed to be a plan for the south side. Nancy Larson, director of the clinics at Mercy, said the hospital has worked out the best way to get health care to people who live south of Highway 99.
Larson said the Family Care Clinic, located next to the 13th Street hospital, will continue to provide all primary care services to its patients, but it will also function as an urgent care facility after hours.
"We will be extending the hours at the clinic to Saturday and Sunday," Larson said. The clinic will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Larson said patients who use the Family Care Clinic don't need to be patients there; walk-ins will be welcome.
The hospital will also be adding extra services to the clinics located next to the old hospital. Larson said there will be a laboratory and blood-drawing station which will be open at the same times the clinics are open.
Larson said there will also be basic radiology services available for patients using the South Merced clinics.
Patients who need services available only at the new hospital will have transportation from the clinics on 13th Street, Larson said. There will be a shuttle bus just for Mercy patients running about every hour from the clinics to the new hospital on G Street.
The bus will be only for Mercy patients, and there will be no cost for those patients. The bus will also be available to take patients to the Dominican Campus on M Street near Bear Creek Drive. That campus will offer wound care, endoscopy services, cardiac rehabilitation, physician and speech therapy and other services.
Although the county asked the hospital to come up with a plan for South Merced residents who need access to the hospital, only about 8 percent of the patients at the hospital clinics come from south of Highway 99.
Robert McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy, said most of the patients at the clinics, about 50 percent, come from north of Highway 99, many of them from the Loughborough Drive area. About 18 percent come from the Atwater and Livingston areas.
"Actually, most of the clinic patients will be closer to the new hospital than they were before," McLaughlin said.
Patients who use The Bus to get to the hospital will see new routes open up to take patients to the new hospital.
Rod Ghearing, head of transportation for The Bus, said Route 4, which goes out G Street to Raley's, will be extended to the new hospital. Mercy has already put in bus benches outside the hospital on Mercy Avenue.
Ghearing said once the routes going to the 13th Street hospital slow down, administration at The Bus will look at putting in more buses going to the new hospital.
"A lot of people use The Bus to get to the hospital now," Ghearing said. "We are looking forward to improving our service to the new hospital."
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or email@example.com.